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After More Than a Year Closed Due to Flood Damage, Bridge Reopens in R.I.

Mon August 29, 2011 - Northeast Edition
Jay Adams

The raging flood waters caused by the March 31 to April 1, 2010 deluge have long dried up, but, thankfully for the people in two towns, funding did not.

Thus, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has reopened the Woodville Road Bridge which crosses the Wood River at the Hopkinton/Richmond, R.I., town line. The well traveled rural span was one of the last remaining road and bridge projects to be restored in the state after torrential rains washed dozens out more than a year ago in early spring.

The bridge was closed for more than 15 months because of Noah-like flooding in the region from 40-hour rains that damaged asphalt, concrete, wood and steel in spans and highways in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

“Because it’s considered a state road the state made it a priority that it had to be fixed right away,” said State Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (District 38 — Hopkinton) when announcing the reopening.

“Everyone knows the extent of the flooding and the damage caused by those April rains,” said RIDOT Deputy Chief Engineer Frank Corrao. “We had to close this bridge due to damage to the concrete bridge deck.”

Corrao explained that the Woodville Road Bridge is a steel structure, the base of which stayed in place. Damage was considerable, primarily to the bridge deck, asphalt joints and the asphalt coat atop the structure. Corrao placed a $600,000 figure on the repair work, but Charles St. Martin, chief of information and public relations at RIDOT, put total cost of the project at $791,000.

Cardi Corp. of Warwick was the main contractor.

“They have a very good reputation in the state of Rhode Island,” said Corrao. “They did the work, which involved the replacing of all the steel beams, putting in a new concrete deck and asphalt overlay. A new bridge rail was installed as well.”

Originally, the bridge was 110-ft. (33.5 m) long, including four spans, with three piers in the water, abutting on either side — one in Hopkinton, the other in Richmond, R.I.

“The original bridge was built in 1949,” said Corrao. “It’s a country road, a rural roadway, but it is very important to the community, those who access schools in the area, commute, get to and from home. That is why it was a priority to get the bridge repaired. It was on a list of bridges to be done [in the near future]. But, because of the extensive damage, it was moved up on the priority list.”

Before the floods, Corrao added, there was a posting of a 3-ton (2.7 t) bridge limit for vehicles. “Now, it is a new bridge with a full load posting,” he said.

DOT Challenges Ahead

Corrao said that the RIDOT is experiencing success stories like this all over Rhode Island, despite tight resources.

“We are pushing, doing the best we can with what we have to work with [limited funding],” he added. “There are real successes out there.”

The Woodville Road Bridge was completed slightly ahead of schedule.

“There were sub-contractors, steel erectors, steel fabricators who installed the rails. The old bridge was completely removed from the Super Structure. Everything that sat on top of the piers, the steel deck, the rails, the abutments. It went smoothly. They finished on June 27 and it was scheduled to be completed by June 30. The contract went out, a bid contract, last fall. It was a lump sum, low-bid process and the low bidder was Cardi Corp.”

Seven new steel beams were put in place, ranging in length from 104 to 112 ft. (31.6 to 34 m). Some 135 cu. yd. (103 cu m) of concrete was used for the deck and its sidewalks. Some 27 tons (24 t) of asphalt was used, which included paving and overlay and the approach work from the roads in Hopkinton and Richmond to both sides of the bridge, he added.

The bridge has been completely reconstructed and should decrease travel time between the two towns. Commuting to the Chariho (Charlestown-Richmond-Hopkinton) Regional School complex will be quicker and easier for parents, staff and students who need to cross the river.

There were some chief environmental concerns, Corrao added, after flood waters receded.

“We are always concerned with the environment when we are working with the natural resources the state has,” he said. “In this case, the Woodville Road Bridge, which is the premium recreational resource for that area’s boating, kayaking and fishing. We needed to be sensitive to that and did not want the impact of any debris from the demolition and reconstruction to enter the river below.”

Safe Work Equals Success

“Obviously, the work went successfully. It was done safely and now a new bridge is serving the community,” said Corrao. “We are pleased with the results.”

Some 60 projects have faced the state, as a result of the massive flood damage in 2010, addressed and completed by a combination of priority need, funding and access. While RIDOT continues to whittle down the list of the last remaining reconstruction projects to be completed, there are still a few more to go.

“We are getting to the end,” said Corrao. “Next up, regarding repairs on flooded bridges, is the Laurel Avenue Bridge in Coventry. It has just gone out to bid and the work will start shortly.”

Corrao said the Laurel Avenue Bridge is one of “the first design-build bridge projects” to be dealt with in its reconstruction.

“We are at the point where the contractor will be hiring a design consultant and a design engineer to design the [new] bridge with RIDOT advising.”

He added that rain damage was so deep and extensive statewide, that some 500 isolated locations — individual roads, highways, bridges, etc. — throughout Rhode Island alone were affected.

The most popular set of buildings affected was the Warwick Mall, a shopping center of dozens of stores that was submerged under nearly two feet of water from the spring floods. The mall was closed for weeks and it forced the mall’s private owners and tenants to spend a combined $110 million on a difficult rebuild.

About a dozen stores did not return to the mall when it dried out. The last remaining space, the two-floor department store of Macy’s, reopened in spring, a year after the devastation. At the reopening, Warwick mayor Scott Avedisian said it’s “incredibly symbolic that within a year… it’s business as usual at a mall that was fully submerged.”

And that was in the midst of dry land. As Corrao said of the 500 isolated locations and 60 bridges, “Pretty much everywhere there was a pond, a river or a bridge structure, there was work to do.” CEG

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